By Anna Laurita
Diaphragmatic breathing is a type of a breathing exercise that strengthens your diaphragm, your main breathing muscle. The diaphragm is at the center of the body, and focusing on this type of breathing at the center of the body, can increase your lung capacity, the strength of your abdomen, the healthy function of your digestive system, pancreas, and your spleen. In addition, diaphragmatic breath may
- lower your stress levels
- reduce your blood pressure
- improve insomnia
- improve digestion
- help you cope with the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- slow down your breathing
- manage the often painful symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Diaphragmatic breathing is often recommended for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD causes the diaphragm to be less effective and since this practice works specifically on strengthening the diaphragm, it can improve lung capacity over time.
Here’s how it works:
With healthy lungs, your diaphragm does most of the work. When you inhale, the diaphragm contracts to expand the lungs and bring fresh air in, and when you exhale, it rises up against the lungs to get toxins out of your lungs. The intercostal muscles (muscles of the ribs), open your rib cage in order to help your diaphragm bring enough air into your lungs. The average person may use only 10-20% of the diaphragm’s potential to expand and contract the lungs. With decreased use over time, in the case of habitual chest breathing or COPD or other respiratory ailment, the diaphragm becomes weak and you start to breathe predominantly in the chest area only, leading to shallow and short breaths. The end-result of chest breathing is that your upper body becomes stiff and tense from overuse of your neck, back, and chest muscles to help you breathe. Finally, the lack of oxygen coming into only the chest area can affect how much energy you have for exercise and other physical activities.
Diaphragmatic breath helps you strengthen your diaphragm so you can take a longer inhale and a longer exhale. This results in an increase of your lung capacity over time, affecting how much oxygen is in your blood, which can boost your immune system and your overall resilience. So let’s get going and learn diaphragmatic breathing:
The basic procedure for diaphragmatic breathing:
- Sit in a comfortable position or lie flat on a comfortable surface.
- Relax your body, especially your shoulders.
- Put a hand on your chest and a hand on your abdomen.
- Breathe in through your nose for three to 10 seconds. You should experience the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your rib cage and stomach expand. During this type of breathing, make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains as still as possible. Later, with practice, you can simply bring your breath to the ribs, and expand only the ribs all the way around, not moving even the abdomen (this takes practice).
- Purse your lips – like blowing a dandelion, press gently on your stomach, and exhale slowly for at least as long as you inhaled, if possible longer.
- Repeat these steps 5-10 times and practice it for 3 times per day for best results.
NOTE: If you have an existing respiratory ailment, please check with your doctor before practicing this breathing technique.
Focusing on Diaphragmatic Breath Does Even More
Breathing is part of your autonomic nervous system (ANS). This system is in charge of essential bodily processes that you don’t need to put any thought into, such as:
- digestive processes
- how quickly you breathe
- metabolic process that affect your weight
- overall body temperature
- blood pressure
The ANS has two main components: the sympathetic and parasympathetic system. Each system is responsible for different bodily functions.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activates body functions, while the parasympathetic (PNS) slows them down. The SNS controls your fight-or-flight response, the PNS brings us into our relaxed, rest and digest nervous system.
So even though most ANS functions are involuntary, you can control some of your ANS processes by doing deep breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths can help you voluntarily regulate your ANS, which can have many benefits — especially lowering your heart rate, regulating blood pressure, and helping you to relax, all of which help decrease how much of the stress hormone cortisol is released into your body.
Try diaphragmatic breathing as described above, over a period of just three weeks and let me know how you feel.
Learn More about breathing correctly in my self-paced easy-to-follow BREATH POTENTIAL online course. It’s the best $79 you will spend to tap into your breath’s potential. The course will change your breath and may just change your life. You may also choose to have optional breath tutoring with Anna Laurita after or during the course.
Basic Diaphragmatic Breathing
“Five Ways You May Be Breathing Wrong” :https://www.lung.org/blog/you-might-be-breathing-wrong
Breath, James Nestor, Riverhead Books
More Scholarly Resources
For More Information on breathing correctly and for maximum potential – enroll today in
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